I have the privilege of teaching at a STEM certified elementary school. We were one of the first few schools to become certified in my state. Our original certification is up for renewal, so we are beginning the process of recertification. Of course, times have changed since our last go-round and we are busy becoming acclimated with the new requirements, procedures, and staff. As with any new thing that you begin, there is a learning curve.
Today was our first pre walk through for the Department of Education. We have been busy preparing for this visit. You know the drill.... make sure your learning targets are visible, that the students work is available to view and that the kids can explain what they are doing and why. All things that we should be doing anyway but today brought just an added layer of pressure.
My departmentalized partner and I decided that we were going to have the kids work on improvements for our chicken brooders. We (meaning the teachers and students) have spent a lot of time discussing the fact that our brooders are not perfect and some improvements may benefit our chicks. Students, during Science class, worked through the Engineering Design process to develop and create a prototype of an improvement. Today should have been the day that we begin to construct and test the designs.
I say should because as anyone with fourth graders or kids for that matters knows, they do not always bring in what is needed. I saw some groups creating prototypes out of paper and then swearing that this would be a sustainable option. Quite a few groups used poster board to construct their design and others brought in materials that could actually work.
What amazes me about kids is that they do the best out of what they have. I watched a group test their design about ten times, they just kept going back to the drawing board and adding things or taking things away. What tenacity! I watched another group painstakingly create a mini version of their final project in hopes that the adults could build the real thing. Another group, used a saw for the first time, a drill for the first time and learned how to use a screwdriver. Who else can say they did that at school? When it was hard for them, they just kept right on trying as they were determined to make the brooder better for our chicks.
These kids never cease to amaze me.... we should all have the determination of these fourth graders trying to complete a STEM project.